Over 700 years ago, King Edward 1st of England (1272-1307) put into law a statute requiring that all silver items must meet the sterling silver standard of being 92.5% pure silver.
He decreed that each item must be assayed (marked) by the “guardians of the craft” who would mark it with a Leopards head.
King Edward 1st is better known as Edward Longshanks (because he was so tall) who defeated William Wallace at the battle of Falkirk, but never conquered Scotland and died himself at Burgh Sands near Carlisle. He is buried at Westminster.
In 1327 King Edward 3rd granted a charter to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. They were headquartered at Goldsmiths Hall in London, hence the term Hallmark. It was recognised more formally as a “mark of quality’ in 1864.
The Goldsmiths Hall still exists today near St Paul’s in London having been destroyed once by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and bombed in 1941 during the Second World War and has been subsequently rebuilt. They oversee the London Assay office where precious metals and sterling silver jewellery are tested for purity and then marked with an official symbol or Hallmarks.
You can see the Hallmarks of this stunning sterling silver James Bond Money Clip as used by Daniel Craig in the film Casino Royale
This is how the hallmark system works
- DP represents the initials of the silversmith in this case Douglas Pell
- 925 represents the purity of the silver 92.5%
- The Leopards head represents the city of hallmark in this case London
- H represents the year, it was hallmarked in 2008
All of The London Silver Company’s items over a certain weight are Hallmarked. These include silver napkin rings, silver pill boxes, silver cufflinks and silver cuff bangles.